JUS435 Counter Terrorism Week VII Midterm Assessment Guidance
As per the syllabus, you must completely review the Netflix film, Terrorism Close Calls, the Student Bombmaker.
Respond to the following questions, in detail.
1. How did Aldawsari become radicalized?
a. Self- radicalized individual who followed a lone wolf line of attack (44:28) Twenty-year-old Khalid Aldawsari. Came from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on a scholarship with the University of Nashville. A good student in Saudi Arabia received scholarship had all his tuition paid for by Saudi Arabia Chemical Company living expenses paid. He had been in the U.S. legitimately on F1 visa for several years. Recently transferred to Texas Tech University, also changed schools South Plains College in Lubbock Area, and was now in business school. A blog was discovered where Aldawsari writes his first impressions of the United States. He wrote about going to football games, attractive young women, crush on teacher. A year later blog posts become angry
i. Radicalized tone ii. Loner iii. Extremely antisocial iv. Doesn’t attend mosque or go to school events
v. Spends most of his time behind locked door
Failed out of Texas Tech December 2010. Wanted to do Jihad against America seeking martyrdom. Aldawsari was radicalized before he ever came to the United States. Aldawsari loved killing American citizens.
2. What were the tools or entities or organizations/people, in place that led to the awareness/suspicions of Aldawsari intentions?
a. An innovative intelligence program designed by the FBI links an explosive chemical purchase to a Saudi chemical engineering student (Aldawsari) studying in Lubbock, Texas (00:51). He was one chemical away from making a weapon of mass destruction. He has the skills, the knowledge and the motivation to launch the attacks. The FBI’s Dallas Division, along with their partners in Lubbock, Texas. IED’s are responsible for half of all Americans killed or wounded in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many homemade IED’s require five basis parts:
1. A container
2. Power supply
3. Trigger switch
5. A chemical explosive charge (05:21)
High pressure waves from IED’s can travel outward at about 1,600 feet per second can cause
6. Pressure can rupture ear drums
7. Slam your brain against the inside if your skull
8. Snap necks
9. Blow apart blood vessels
10. Over-pressurize body cavities
11. And cause fatal ruptures
Ball bearings, stones, nails, and toxic chemicals are often added for additional damages. TRIPwire Program invites vendors of known explosive chemicals to report purchase to law enforcement (06:40).Carolina Biological Supply Company and Con-Way Freight Shipping Company notify FBI that an individual in Lubbock, Texas, is trying to make a suspicious purchase (07:35). Companies were able to give FBI the address and name. Thomas Petrowski; supervisory special agent for FBI in Dallas Texas first to hear about unusual order (07:46). Not illegal to purchase chemical but worried part was the amount. Attempted to order 10 bottles of Liquid Phenol. Known chemical used in making of improvised explosive devices. All major assets for the Dallas FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force are on ground doing surveillance on
Aldawsari. Current electronic surveillance. Frazier Thompson, FBI Supervisory Special Agent. Special Agent Michael Orndorff makes direct contact. FISA body of law that defines how investigators collect information in national security cases. FBI special agent Loretta
Smitherman specializes in intelligence and surveillance gathering. Court orders were served to google, Facebook, yahoo email, telephone company for his information. Mitch Silber Director of Intelligence Analysis with NYCPD. Apartment manager revels he has received several large packages
3. How effective were the counter terror tools? This means organizations, people, tactics…etc.
a. By the time TRIPwire warned of Aldawsari he had already planned put his attack
(19:24). FBI just didn’t know if he was connected to a larger terrorist cell. Looking through emails he has three email connected to him and then find more chemicals being ordered and materials. How far along was he. Huge gap in intelligence!!! He was under 24/7 surveillance could not move without police knowing. Agents knew he attempted to purchase phenol but not sure if he had been able to purchase other materials. Aldawsari is receiving several large packages at apartment. Orndorff enter apartment posing as maintenance man and looks around apartment cant see packages but sees damage to apartment. Walls had been punched, cabinets had been slammed shut and broken. More direct surveillance is set up inside apartment. Includes electronic surveillance of all of his means of communications (22:30). Gave authority to surreptitiously enter his apartment February 14, 2011. Agents enter apartment without his knowledge (black bag operation). Set up surveillance equipment: Microphones, Video surveillance. Searched apartment for items they knew he had received. Aldawsari was only gone about 15 mins team had to act quick before he returned. Surveillance up and running, audio and video surveillance reveal he is erratic in his behavior, he is observed pacing the apartment and talking to himself. Police still don’t know what his plan is or if he is working alone. A Second search in conducted without his knowledge they discover a bombmaking lab. Multiple items are discovered: Hazmat suit, Professional chemistry equipment, Clocks,
Christmas tree lights as well as Chemicals.
1. Nitric acid
2. Sulfuric acid
3. Purchased 3 gallons of sulfuric acid
4. Ten boxes of nitric acid
Written journals were found explaining why he did it religious devotion Justifying what he was doing. Flash drives with step by step in making bombs (hooded chemist). FBI waits to see if he is connected to a cell. Emails found subject “Target” contained the names and home addresses of U.S. military previously stationed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, 12 dams and 12 electric power centers. Looking at backpacks and strollers with life like baby dolls. Disinfectants limited how he ordered phenol he made his own business name and ordered 15 pounds of phenol. On February 23, 2011 Aldawsari was arrested.
Acted as if he had no idea why he was there. He claims he was doing research and never planned to harm Americans (42:42) On June 27, 2012 sentenced to life in prison, for attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. Agents played long game, they waited for
4. What would you have done differently to counter terrorists like Aldawsari?
a. Instead of officers entering Aldawsari home when he is not around, which I feel is very risky. I would have implemented an undercover officer to work with him. So then the officer can get to know Aldawsari, and found out much faster that he was self-radicalized and working alone. That was the only information’s that stopped police from arrest. They needed to know if he was working alone. Aldawsari was a very smart man with all the knowledge and materials needed to create a weapon of mass destruction. He should have been arrested sooner. People waited regarding 9/11 and we knowhow that turned out. Especially since his targets were power centers and dams. That could wipe us out and leave us vulnerable for more attacks by enemies. The investigation could have been solved much sooner if an undercover agent was placed with Aldawsari.